Transat Jacques-Vabre: a race without wind but not without interest

Above all, do not slack off. Remain vigilant, until the end. Even with a good margin maintained for days on its pursuers, the Thomas Rettant-Morgan Lagravière duo did not let themselves be put to sleep in their last hours of navigation by sometimes amorphous trade winds.

The tandem crossed the finish line early in the morning in Martinique this Thursday, November 25, winner on LinkedOut in the Imoca category (the 18m monohulls in the Vendée Globe), at the end of a Transat Jacques-Vabre quite tiring for the nerves as the weather conditions, with capilotade winds, forced all the sailors to work .

The Sébastien Rogues-Matthieu Souben pair, the first to complete the crossing on Tuesday 23 November – more or less depending on the categories – on his trimaran Primonial, knows something about it. The nocturnal arrival was played in a pocket handkerchief after more than fifteen days at sea, the rivals of the Ocean Fifty class to its basques less than three hours away. Dominators in the category of Ultimate giants, Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier certainly evoked “A long quiet river”, but specifying “Even if it is constant attention”.

High sports intensity

And this is what the race director Francis Le Goff retains at the time of the first assessments: “We can regret the absence of highlights from the race, but I would like to underline the sporting commitment of all the sailors, who had to demonstrate their ability to race in a short time. We had to fight, and this will also be the case for the forty Class 40 still far from the finish, with a dozen boats that can play for the win at the beginning of next week. “

In a world where bad fortunes are often legion, the Transat can suddenly congratulate itself on an edition without much damage, 75 ships out of 79 at the start are still likely to return safely. “It is all the same reassuring for the community and its economy, and in particular for the sponsors”, supports Francis Le Goff. The Ultimes engaged, above all, avoided too much damage as during the Route du Rhum 2018.

A satisfaction for François Gabart, second with Tom Laperche on his very recent SVR-Lartigue, launched this summer: “It’s been four or five years since I finished a race with my appendages, and it’s heartwarming, relish the skipper. Afterwards, the conditions were easy, but with our new boats, I expected that we would have more technical problems. All the teams have improved. “

The Route du Rhum 2022 already in the minds

An observation shared by Francis Le Goff: “Some people came mainly to seek reliability, and that is why we had proposed a course of more than 13,000 kilometers. I believe that sailors have gradually taken the measure of their mounts. It promises some incredible brawls in the years to come. “

→ PORTRAIT Transat Jacques-Vabre: Kevin Escoffier, the surviving engineer

Some are already pawing. Armel Le Cléac’h, third in the Ultimes with Kevin Escoffier, is more than satisfied with his Banque Populaire XIlanded on the water in April 2021: “The boat is healthy, it is sailor, and that gives prospects for the solo sailor. “ On the horizon, the Route du Rhum 2022 is exciting the entire fleet. Who in the meantime crosses their fingers so that social unrest in Martinique does not spill over onto the pontoons.

This Friday, the award ceremonies are maintained. “No one asked for an expedited return, says Francis Le Goff. The race was still long and tiring, and it’s not easy to get back to sea right away. “



Transat Jacques-Vabre: Sébastien Rogues and Matthieu Souben, first to arrive in Martinique

Their nerves put to the test for two weeks, Sébastien Rogues and Matthieu Souben crossed the finish line of the Transat Jacques-Vabre on the night of Monday to Tuesday, November 23 at Fort-de-France in Martinique, to win. in the 15m multihull category, ahead of the racing superstars, the Ultimes, whose course is longer.

The tandem, associated for the second time in the doubles race, burst into joy after being the first of the 75 boats still in the race (out of 79 at the start) to cross the line in the bay of Fort-de-France, at 9:54 p.m. Monday local time (2:54 a.m. Paris time).

→ READ. Sailing: the Transat Jacques-Vabre in a favorable wind

They thus won the race in the Ocean Fifty category (15m multihulls), one of the four classes of sailboats entered in the race. The organizers have set up three different routes depending on the class of the boat to allow a relatively grouped arrival.

The first Ultimes expected at midday

“It’s a lot of happiness, we are happy with the efforts we have made over a fortnight. It’s awesome ! These are rare moments in a lifetime, and that is priceless ”, launched with a broad smile on his face Sébastien Rogues, who answered journalists from his boat moored to the pontoon lit by the full moon and in the absence of the public due to the curfew in force in Martinique.

The two sailors arrived before the fastest boats in the world, the Ultimes (32 m long flying maxi-trimarans), which have a course a third longer than the Ocean Fifty, and whose current leader, the tandem Franck Cammas-Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild) is expected from midday Tuesday (Paris time).

“It’s always a pleasure to arrive before the Ultimes, it must be said! They really didn’t have the same course as us and, anyway, they’re the most beautiful boats in the world with the best sailors in the world. That won’t change. But there is little chance in life when you can win the Jacques-Vabre and even less win it in front of the Ultimes, so maybe this one will be the only one in our life ”, rejoiced Sébastien Rogues, at the end of a grueling race. “This Transat Jacques-Vabre was longer than expected, we were all a little surprised, it was a lot of psychological commitment”, summarized Matthieu Souben.



Transat Jacques-Vabre: victory for Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier in the Ultimes

Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild) won the Transat Jacques-Vabre on Tuesday 23 November in the Ultimes category, that of the fastest racing boats in the world, after 16 days at sea.

→ READ. Sailing: the Transat Jacques-Vabre in a favorable wind

The two French skippers crossed the line off Fort-de-France at 10:16 a.m. local time (3:16 p.m. Paris time) to win in 16 days and an hour, accompanied by dozens of small boats in a bay bathed in sunshine. They arrived in Martinique twelve hours after the Sébastien Rogues / Matthieu Souben (Primonial) tandem, victorious in the Ocean Fifty class, 15-meter-long multihulls which had a course a third shorter than the Ultimes (flying maxi-trimarans of 32 m long).

The return of the Ultimes on a great classic

This is the first victory on a great classic offshore racing from this boat, launched in July 2017 and in the hands of Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier since summer 2019.

→ REPORT. Sailing: five flying and fragile giants on the Transat Jacques-Vabre

Franck Cammas, a sailor of many exploits and the first skipper to tour the world within 50 days (Jules-Verne Trophy in 2010), thus signs his fourth victory in the Transat Jacques-Vabre (2001, 2003, 2007, 2021). Charles Caudrelier, winner of the crewed round the world race (Volvo Ocean Race in 2017-2018), has a third success in this same event, contested in doubles (2009, 2013, 2021). Cammas and Caudrelier largely dominated the race, occupying the head of the fleet fourteen days out of sixteen.

On the occasion of this Transat, the Ultimes made their comeback on a great classic, three years after having experienced numerous breakages during the Route du Rhum 2018 (single-handed transatlantic), notably with the loss of a boat, Banque Popular.

The sponsor is involved in the construction of a new machine (Maxi Banque Populaire XI), launched last April and still skippered by Armel Le Cléac’h, associated with Kevin Escoffier for this very first race. The crew should arrive in Martinique on Tuesday around 6 p.m. / 7 p.m. local time (11 p.m. / midnight, Paris time) in a duel for second place in these Ultimes with the latest addition to the fleet, helmed by François Gabart and Tom Laperche (SVR Lazartigue).

→ PODCAST. Clarisse Crémer: “During the Vendée Globe, I took the time to contemplate the oceans”



Charlie Dalin: “Thoroughly from the start of the Transat Jacques-Vabre”

No more slaloms on the pontoons trying to avoid meeting, taking a selfie with a childhood friend. At 10:18 am this Sunday, November 7, his boat must leave the pontoons for the open sea, while waiting for the cannon to fire at 1:27 pm Since winning the last edition of the Jacques-Vabre double-handed Transat and afterwards his arrival at the top of the Vendée Globe in Les Sables d’Olonne last January (1), Le Havrais has become the local star.

→ ANALYSIS. Sailing: the Transat Jacques-Vabre in a favorable wind

“It’s tiring but fun, especially with the kids. When I was little, I never missed a departure from Jacques-Vabre, I went to school near the docks, my grandparents lived nearby ”, told, a few hours before boarding, the navigator now installed in Brittany.

When the line is cut, media concerns will be far away, because he and Paul Meilhat, his co-skipper (he refutes the term teammate, devaluing according to him) will not have to run out, otherwise they will take five hour penalty, according to a new provision of the regulations. When a finish is sometimes played down to the minute, no navigator takes the risk any more… Even if the game of starting in front, to be where the wind is most favorable, is worth the effort. “History shows that the race is already partly played out of the Channel: those who are in front at this time often remain so”, explains the navigator who will be able to push fully for two days, without or hardly sleeping, his dear “Apivia”.

The importance of calm winds

“In 2019, it was his very first race and we won, and in the Vendée, frankly, he was great, fast in the strong wind and especially in the calm. “ Because the navigator delivers the recipe for victory through a formula whose salt he savor: “You win by going quickly from time to time, but above all by going slowly for as little time as possible”, he smiles. In other words, a race is won first in calm winds, when the boat is dragging just a little less than those of the little comrades. This is how he won the Jacques-Vabre in 2019, negotiating better than the leader of the time, Jérémie Beyou, the “Doldrums of the doldrums”. Translate: the absence of wind in the southern tropical zone.

Winner of the last edition, he is “Fully motivated” for the double. “It’s my race, at home, he emphasizes. I know that there is a very tough competition, but I also know that I will be able to pull hard on the machine that I know perfectly and which will take me to the next objective, the Route du Rhum 2022. (alone). Then, his beautiful 18-meter yellow friend will pass into other hands, the sponsor preferring to build him a brand new ship for the Vendée Globe 2023. “The next one will use the same philosophy, but taking advantage of everything we have learned in sailing over the past five years where we have progressed by leaps and bounds. “

Human-sized machines

Still developed by Mer et Concept, the company of navigator-engineer François Gabart, racing in the Ultim category, the new “Apivia” will remain faithful to the philosophy common to both men: to use the best of technology for the benefit of performance, but also safety and ergonomics: “Apivia was one of the first with a closed cockpit. The idea is to have everything close at hand and to go out only when necessary. It’s less tiring and more productive in terms of performance and alertness. “

→ READ. “My son gave me the gift of joining as a teammate”

Far from the legend of sailors, hair in the wind wavering under the heavy sea, the success of the Imocas, monohulls of 18 m, cannot be denied. “The Ultims multihulls are very impressive boats, magnificent machines, which give an image of sailing in which many sailors or spectators do not find themselves., assures the browser. Imoca is performance and adventure on a human scale. ” The figures prove him right: forty are in the ports and eleven under construction. There will be a lot of people on the Sables d’Olonne quays in November 2023.


→ PODCAST. “During the Vendée Globe, I took the time to contemplate the oceans”



Sailing: the Transat Jacques-Vabre in a favorable wind

Will we see a Class 40, a small 12.20m monohull, toasting politeness at the finish line on a 32m flying multihull? This is the big bet of this 15e edition of the Transat Jacques-Vabre, known as the Coffee Route, between Le Havre and South America or the Caribbean, supposed to reproduce the course of black gold in grains.

→ PORTRAIT.Transat Jacques-Vabre: Kevin Escoffier, the surviving engineer

“Until now the little ones arrived weeks after the big multihulls. The party was long over and they found themselves in front of an empty dock. However, they too had crossed the Atlantic ”, explains Francis Le Goff, new race director of this Transat Jacques-Vabre, who has long been thinking of this differentiated course, unprecedented in the world of ocean racing.

Fifteen to eighteen days at sea for everyone

To achieve this result, the organization has planned to send the fastest boats to turn around an island off the Brazilian coast, before sending them up due north towards Martinique. The intermediate classes will descend less low, while the small monohulls will take an almost direct route. In total, almost half the miles covered for the little ones, but between fifteen and eighteen days at sea for the best in each category.

Supported by a new general manager, Caroline Caron, trained at the best sports marketing school, Amaury sport organization (ASO), the organizing company of the Tour de France, this innovation has won over the title sponsor Jacques-Vabre. Which looked favorably on this group welcome, synonymous with a popular festival in a new coffee-growing area for him, Martinique, chosen for the first time as the land of arrival for the Transat.

Some renowned skippers at the helm of large, fast boats have complained. ” I find it a pity. Sailing means going as quickly as possible from one point to another by choosing your route ”, proclaims Jérémie Beyou, winner of the 2011 edition and 3e in 2019 and 2013 in Imoca (the Vendée Globe monohulls). “Class 40 will not go into the Doldrums, this zone of turbulence which can make all the difference”, argues the skipper, leading in 2019 before finding himself stopped dead in the famous tropical zone.

→ PORTRAIT. Transat Jacques-Vabre: Marie Tabarly, a name that floats in the wind

Obviously, on the class 40 side, we are happy. “It’s fairer, more motivating for us, explains Halvard Mabire, category president. It will also be much cheaper for ferrying or repatriating the return ships by freighter, that matters. “

A race that cultivates its difference

This innovation pushes this Transat Jacques-Vabre up one category in the ranking of major sailing races, dominated by the two essential solo races, Vendée Globe (round the world) and Route du Rhum (Saint-Malo – Guadeloupe) . “This race, the first edition of which, in 1993, took place alone, has always cultivated its difference. The main one is that it has been run since 1995 with two sailors per boat, explains Francis Le Goff. That changes everything, because the double crew makes it possible to push the boats to full capacity all the time, whereas on a single-handed, you have to moderate the pace while the sailor is sleeping. “

This dual control also allows young sailors to experience their first big transatlantic safely, under the control of seasoned old sea dogs. “For me, she will always be unique, testifies the star navigator François Gabart. It was my first transatlantic race in 2009. It is less known to the general public than the Route du Rhum, but it plays a very important role for sailors. “

Another originality, the race takes place every two years and not every four years, like the Vendée Globe or the Route du Rhum. “It allows new boats to run in and new sponsors to put a toe in the water”, explains Halvard Mabire. Class 40 has 45 crews at the start, a attendance record that can be found in all categories, since this 15e edition brings together 79 boats, twenty more than in 2019, where the Ultims multihulls were not present.

→ CRITICAL.Sailing: “The Atlantic in troubled waters”, thriller in the open sea

“It is a sign of good health for the Jacques-Vabre but also for the whole ocean racing which suffered less from the Covid-19 than other sports. The partners have found sailing to be a reliable sport ”, notes the director Francis Le Goff, delighted to see new sponsors on the sails and hulls of the boats moored until Sunday, November 7 on the quays of Le Havre.


The big multihulls are back

Absent in 2019, the flying multihulls of the Ultim class will be at the start of the 15e Transat Jacques-Vabre. The opportunity for two brand new giants to test each other in a long distance race, the Banque Populaire XI by Armel Le Cléac’h and the SVR Lazartigue by François Gabart. These two developing boats are not favorites against the other three, which are much more seasoned: Sodebo (Thomas Coville), Actual (Yves Le Blévec) and Maxi Edmond de Rothschild (Franck Cammas). The Ultims will not participate in the next Transat Jacques-Vabre in 2023, because they will then be embarked on a great adventure: the solo multihull round the world.


→ PODCAST. Clarisse Crémer: “During the Vendée Globe, I took the time to contemplate the oceans”



Transat Jacques-Vabre: Kevin Escoffier, the surviving engineer

First of all to evacuate the question that everyone has been asking him since he returned to dry land in December 2020, after his shipwreck in the Vendée Globe and his spectacular rescue by Jean Le Cam. “Yes it was stressful to be on the liferaft, he said. It’s been a long wait, but I never really doubted. Neither at the time, nor later. I never asked myself the question of stopping the sail. “

→ READ. Vendée Globe: Kevin Escoffier recovered by the French Navy

At 41, Kevin Escoffier does not want to drag this miracle status too long, a very heavy anchor to carry for any sailor. “This Vendée Globe is a failure and I want my revenge, especially since I am convinced that I did not make a false maneuver, on the contrary I was sailing cautiously”, explains the Malouin, who will have something to share with his skipper Armel Le Cléac’h, himself involved in a terrible accident during the Route du Rhum 2018.

“I was his engineer, I was there with him when we brought the dislocated wreck back to La Coruña (Spain). Something binds us forever, even if we don’t talk about it. You don’t have to, he knows, I know. “

“It’s Armel the boss, but I give my opinion”

Before these shipwrecks, which could have turned out much worse for either side, Escoffier and Le Cléac’h, it was the two fingers of one hand on a mainsheet. Almost ten years of designing the hull together, tracking down the extra kilograms, imagining the little trick to make life easier on board, it creates links comparable to those of a Formula 1 driver and his racing engineer. “He’s the boss, it’s his project, he’s the one who leaves, but I’m not the type not to give me my opinion, anyway that’s why I’m hired “, continues the sailor who has a double experience.

→ PORTRAIT. Transat Jacques-Vabre: Marie Tabarly, a name that floats in the wind

Mechanical engineer with much sought-after advice in the sailing industry, he has also dragged his bag a lot on the most beautiful racing boats, alongside the biggest names in ocean racing, Michel Desjoyeaux, Pascal Bidégorry, Vincent Riou . And so Armel Le Cléac’h, who called on him as a team member and advisor for the Transat Jacques-Vabre.

This race marks the first flight of People’s Bank XI in a transatlantic, after a satisfactory first race in the Bay of Biscay, the 24 heures Azimut, won by the duo at the end of September.Pop bank, it’s a bit like my home, and then we don’t often have the opportunity to be invited on a boat like this, and I need it, mentally and physically, by the sea ”, explains the sailor.

At the same time, he is finalizing the construction of a new boat, financed by the loyal partner PRB, who had already built the one that disappeared in the South Atlantic. “We will soon be launching it and it will be operational in March. So I had a little time. When Armel called me, I jumped at the chance ”, continues the luxury crew, determined to take full advantage of the opportunity to sail relieved of the responsibilities resting on the skipper alone. And what a skipper! Triple winner of the Solitaire du Figaro and first of the Vendée Globe 2012. “Everyone knows, Armel, it’s class. In addition he wins, which makes him a rare guy, by definition, since there is only one winner. “

The difference is made on the ground

The difference between a good sailor and a winning sailor? “She is also done a lot around a table chatting with partners or behind a computer screen”, explains Kevin Escoffier, who divides the performance pie into three parts. “There is the quality of the good man, that’s the main thing, because a good sailor on a bad boat will always go faster than a bad better endowed one. Then we are in a mechanical sport and the part of the material is very important. But I put at the same level as the first two points the ability of the sailor to manage the project on the financial, technical and human level. “

→ CRITICAL.Sailing: “The Atlantic in troubled waters”, thriller in the open sea

A third for the sailor, a third for the boat and a third for the management? “That’s about it, but we should add the weather, which is a fourth third even bigger”, smiles the sailor, who is delighted that his sport, so framed and modeled on land, keeps a part of chance at sea. “Too bad for the cliché, but the beauty of sport is also due to this element of uncertainty. The quality of the sailor also means being able to get out of unforeseen situations. Seen like this, there is something positive in my accident on the Vendée Globe. I think I reacted well and I came out stronger ”.


His inspiration – My father, a fisherman

“I have worked with a lot of great sailors and noticed that depending on the country, the definition changes. In France, we swear by solo sailors, elsewhere we praise America’s racers or the bosses of crewed races. I remember a stopover in Cape Town, South Africa, where no one knew Michel Desjoyeaux, who nevertheless won two Vendée Globe. For me a true sailor is someone who lives for the sea, able to sail all year round for work and go on cruises on vacation. Like my father for example. Him, we do not talk about it, he managed a fleet of fishing catamarans in Saint-Malo, and that is strong. He taught me everything. “


→ PODCAST. Clarisse Crémer: “During the Vendée Globe, I took the time to contemplate the oceans”



Transat Jacques-Vabre: Marie Tabarly, a name that floats in the wind

Him it’s him, me it’s me. At 37 years old, Marie Tabarly does not live with the constant references to her father, who died in the Irish Sea in 1998, which is constantly brought up to her. She also makes any request for an interview with the condition that one speaks to her above all… of something else. The fact remains that this famous name stops passers-by on the quays of Le Havre, where is moored awaiting departure Kostum-Lantana landscape, the Imoca (18 m monohull) of which she will share a quarter with the skipper Louis Duc.

This has always been the case for the one who shares with her father – he offered himself as soon as he had had three cents on an old baptized cutter Pen Duick – the taste of… old boats. Like this Kostum-Lantana landscape which burned down in 2019 on the same Le Havre quay, just before the start of the previous edition of the Transat Jacques-Vabre. “Louis and I have known each other for a long time, I find it courageous to embark on the adventure of rearming a boat that was abandoned, she says, it is a beautiful story of man and sea. Sailboats deserve to live a long time, more than the time of a few races. “

→ CRITICAL.Sailing: “The Atlantic in troubled waters”, thriller in the open sea

On board, she will lend him a hand and her long sailing experience to bring the boat to port. “I’m here to help Louis bring him to the other side and take him in hand, with the aim for him to participate in the Vendée Globe in 2024”, explains the one who sailed for a long time in the early 2000s aboard Geronimo, the fastest multihull of its time, with the best pupil of his father, Olivier de Kersauson, at the helm.

“We are not the type to feel sorry for in the family”

Marie Tabarly also used her oilskin bottoms on Pen Duick which she inherited with her mother Jacqueline, in particular the first one, recently restored thanks to a fundraising campaign led by the heiress. And also the famous Pen Duick VI, large ketch designed for the first crewed round the world race of 1973, which returned to service with Captain Marie at the helm.

During the year 2019, the “VI”, as the insiders say, had started a world tour with stopovers and distinguished guests to reflect on the future of the planet, under the flag of the Elemen’Terre Project association that it launched in 2017. Cruel irony, the trip of this “Sailing think tank” was stopped by the Covid pandemic, the result of globalization that the Elemen’Terre project is trying to denounce. “Not easy to live with at the time, does she agree, but we are not the type to feel sorry for in the family. It is perhaps a bad for a good, because we were understanding that the connections by plane of our guests were not in phase with our project. “

→ PORTRAIT. Sailing: Violette Dorange, the offshore princess of the Apprentis d’Auteuil

A new tack will bring back Pen Duick VI to its glorious past through participation in 2023 in the Golden Globe Race, an old-fashioned round-the-world crewed race. “It’s a great challenge, and in addition we will try to recruit the crew in accordance with our values ​​on the basis of sailor skills but also a project in connection with our association”, explains the one who claims the freedom to jump from one horse to another.

“I never wanted one at the sea and I never left it”

Marie Tabarly put her career as an equine behaviorist on hold five years ago to embark on these adventures. And do not ask him if this return to the sea which took his father from him corresponds to the completion of mourning. “That is a journalist’s vision (and knock), she retorts. I never wanted it at the sea and I never left it. Two weeks after my father died, I was sailing on Pen Duick. I gave up riding because my horse got injured. “

Today the equine spends happy days as a father in the Breton meadows. “He gave me a foal. But when I stopped riding, I wanted to sail and I felt that my boat (Pen Duick VI) wanted to too. I’m 37 years old, no kid, at some point you have to go, we only have one life ”, underlines this pure Breton woman despite her mother’s half-Martinican ancestry.

“I like the cold, the rain, the wind, but I also have the hot blood of the fire of rum”, says the one who claims the right to live from her passion, even if it means facing skepticism vis-à-vis the multiple projects combining the veil of pleasure and the environment. “All are useful, and you spend more time on land behind your computer or phone, to get money, pay the crews, run the shop, than with your nose in the wind breathing the sea air. So yes, we live off what we love but it’s not alwayseasy days. “


Her inspiration – Florence Arthaud

Among her models, there is her father Eric Tabarly, of course, on whom she spends as little as possible, but many others whose wake she admires. All have in common to have defended the two most precious goods according to her: the happiness of fulfilling her dreams and freedom. In the world of sailing, two personalities float: Olivier de Kersauson, with whom she has sailed quite a bit, and “the magnificent” Florence Arthaud, winner of the 1990 Route du Rhum who died in 2015 in a helicopter accident.


→ PODCAST. Clarisse Crémer: “During the Vendée Globe, I took the time to contemplate the oceans”